Czesław Miłosz, science-fiction writer

Czesław Miłosz is known primarily as a poet, then essayist and man of ideas. What he is definitely not thought of as is a writer of science fiction. Yet according to his biographer  Andrzej Franaszek, as reported in Polish weekly Przekrój (and translated by Project Forum website Salon), he was working on a science fiction novel called Góry Parnasu (The Hills of Parnassus) that remained unfinished at his death.

It is not a big surprise that it was left unfinished as Miłosz refers to the book in its introduction as “the novel I won’t write.” This ambivalence had nothing to do with snobbery about genre fiction but came from deep-seated philosophical reservations, most interestingly about the state of the novel:

“ … in the 20th century ways of alienating the novel have proliferated, thereby wearing out the genre and rendering it incapable of capturing reality. The need to invent new civilizations is a chance to return to an old-worldly description of reality, yet the growing pressure of modern demands prevents us from making effective use of these possibilities in well-written dialogues and characterization.”

If the title of the novel doesn’t strike you as Star Wars-like material you are very likely right. The summary of its plot in the article makes plain where Miłosz’s concerns lie and the novel’s final sentence “If all of our human race had a choice between losing and winning the way it has won, I believe the victory wasn’t worth winning” is probably not going to supplant “Live long and prosper” or “May the force be with you” at sci-fi conventions any time soon.

Update: And if you are interested in Polish writers who did finish their science fiction books here is a review of the recently published A Polish Book of Monsters.

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Categories: Writers


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2 Comments on “Czesław Miłosz, science-fiction writer”

  1. 21/10/2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Well-written! I also found a nice interview, a great source of information about Miłosz-a person, not only an artist on:,1,Boundaries-of-Poetry-interview-with-Czeslaw-Milosz-winner-of-the-Nobel-Prize-in-Literature-.html


  1. Fall Books from a Polish perspective | literalab - 05/10/2012

    […] Miłosz, whose previously unpublished science-fiction novel Góry Parnasu (The Parnassus Hills) has received mention here before and will hopefully make it into English before the planets discussed in the book have been reached […]

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